December 19, 1919 – The manufacture of intoxicating liquor for the manufacturer’s own use and transportation of it, except for medicinal and other expressly permitted purposes, are unlawful in Minnesota, the state supreme court held in decisions filed today sustaining the validity of the so-called prohibition enforcement law enacted by the 1919 legislature. This decision is a blow to “home stills.”
Example of a home still1
The legislature may prohibit traffic in near intoxicants, the court rules.
The decisions affirm orders of the Hennepin County District Court overruling demurrers to indictments against Eugene A. Hosmer and Andrew Brothers, both of Minneapolis. Hosmer was charged with manufacturing one quart of beer to be used as a beverage and containing one-half of one percent alcohol. The indictment against Brothers accused him of unlawfully transporting one gallon of intoxicating liquor.
“The ultimate purpose of prohibition is to prevent the excessive use of intoxicating liquors,” says the opinion in the Hosmer appeal. “To accomplish that purpose and to prevent evasions, the legislature may prohibit the traffic, sale, transportation, possession and manufacture, even for the use of the manufacturer.”
In the Brothers case, it is held among other things, that “to make the enforcement of prohibition effective the legislature may prohibit traffic in beverages near to intoxicating.
“The fact that the legislature declares such beverages intoxicating does not invalidate such prohibition. It is within the power of the legislature to prohibit the manufacture, transportation and sale of liquor containing one-half percent of alcohol.”
Both opinions, written by Judge Oscar Hallam, are unanimous.
Judge Oscar Hallam2
Hosmer contended that he made the liquor in good faith as a tonic for his aged father. Brothers was charged with transporting intoxicating liquor July 29 in Minneapolis.
Both indictments by the Hennepin County grand jury were returned under Chapter 455 of the Minnesota laws of 1919. The trial court overruled the demurrer to the indictment and certified ten questions on each to the supreme court.
Decisions today uphold at every point of attack the constitutionality and validity of the new law.
Going further, the court holds that it is within the power of the legislature to prohibit the manufacture, transportation and sale of liquor containing one-half percent of alcohol, and not actually intoxicating and that the fact that the legislature declares such beverages intoxicating does not invalidate such prohibition. Thus in the Hosmer case, even home manufacture of near intoxicants is held to violate the law, and the decision, it is said, may be taken as the Swan Song of the home still.
Holding that provisions making places where liquor is manufactured and sold nuisances, are germane to the general subject, the court overrules a contention that the enforcement law contains more than one subject and is invalid.
The law is not unconstitutional as a delegation of legislative power to congress, the opinion states.
“A state statute absolutely prohibiting within the limits of the state the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors,” says the opinion in the Hosmer case, “is a warranted exercise of police power. It is not in contravention of our state constitution or of the constitution of the United States.”
The Daily People’s Press; “State Supreme Court Upholds Prohibition. Minn. Decision Holds that Manufacture and Transportation Are Prohibited. Ruling Strikes At Home Stills. Court Unanimous in Opinion Upholding the Enforcement Law.”; Owatonna, Steele County, Minn.; Dec. 29, 1919; p. 1.
1https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e9/72/b4/e972b45aaa2e47347c3b1e1c39686645.jpg (home still)
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